Small drop in early entry GCSEs after crackdown

Exam paper Image copyright A_M_Radul/Getty Images

There were 54,845 entries for early GCSEs in Wales this month, down 4.5% compared to November 2016.

Pupils were able to sit exams in two Maths GCSEs, English Language and Welsh language in November.

But the Education Secretary Kirsty Williams wants to crack down on so-called "early entry" in future.

The regulator Qualification Wales had warned that large numbers of pupils taking GCSEs early could be putting their education at risk.

Its report was published after the registration deadline for the November exams.

Provisional figures from Qualifications Wales show:

  • 22,670 students sat their Mathematics GCSE in November, down 1.7% on last year.
  • A larger 32.4% decrease in those who sat Mathematics-Numeracy, down to 19,730.
  • Entries from Year 10 and below were lower than in November 2016.

Only re-sits were allowed for English language and Welsh language in November, though that will change in future as part of the reforms announced by the Education Secretary last month.

There were 11,870 English language entries and 505 pupils sat the Welsh language exam.

Ms Williams has said that only the first attempt at a GCSE will count towards a school's performance measures from 2019, in an effort to reduce the high numbers being put in early for exams.

The action was recommended in a Qualifications Wales report which said that widespread "early entry" posed "significant risk" to pupils.

The Welsh Government called it a "definite step in the right direction".

A spokesperson said the cabinet secretary had been clear that schools should only enter learners when they are confident and they are ready to gain the best possible result.

"This is something we will continue to monitor closely," the spokesperson added.

Owen Hathway, Wales policy officer at the National Education Union, said the figures made interesting reading and suggested that schools "are already making decisions around pupil entry based on what the best course of action is for those individuals".

He said the registration for the examinations was made prior to the publication of the Qualifications Wales report into early entry and so perhaps it would be more important to compare these figures with future registration numbers "as a way of evaluating what impact, if any, the changes proposed will have had".

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